26-year-old director Drake Doremus makes his Sundance debut with “Douchebag.” According to the festival, the film is an “offbeat comedy that gives a modern twist to sibling rivalry.”
“The week Sam Nussbaum is to be married, his fiancée questions why his only brother, Tom, isn’t coming to the wedding. Unsatisfied with his lame reply, she surprises Sam by bringing the brothers together. Sam is not happy, but he rarely is—unless he’s telling someone what to do. When it’s revealed that Tom has only been in love once—with his fifth-grade girlfriend—Sam insists they go find her. It soon becomes evident that their journey is simply an excuse for Sam to avoid his impending commitment.” [Synopsis courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival]
U.S. Dramatic Competition
Director: Drake Doremus
Screenwriter: Lindsay Stidham, Drake Doremus, Jonathan Schwartz, Andrew Dickler
Cast: Andrew Dickler, Ben York Jones, Marguerite Moreau, Wendi McClendon-Covey, Nicole Vicius, Amy Ferguson
Producer: Jonathan Schwartz, Marius Markevicius
Associate Producer: Ben York Jones
Cinematographer: Scott Uhlfelder, Chris Robertson
Editor: Andrew Dickler, Drake Doremus, Jason Stewart
Coproducers: Lindsay Stidham, Jennifer Cochis, Sean Vawter
Drake Doremus on himself, his introduction to filmmaking, and his Sundance project, “Douchebag”…
My name is Drake Doremus and I am 26 years old and have been making films since I was 16. I was introduced to improv comedy at the age of six by my mother who was a founder of The Groundlings in Los Angeles. I started by getting in to stage plays when I was about 13. After making a few of those I thought, “hey, wait a minute, you can keep doing takes until it’s perfect? Great, I think I will love making movies!” What also lured me was editing. I love the process of finding the magic in the cutting room, that feeling was just too good.
I was in the cutting room on my first film “Spooner,” which will come out in 2010, and my wonderful and talented editor Andrew Dickler fascinated me to no end. For some reason I had this crazy idea in my head of Andrew and my best friend Ben York Jones playing brothers. Andrew had never acted before, nor had he met Ben, but I felt it in my heart. It was lighting in a bottle moment for me. My wonderful producers Jonathan Schwartz and Marius Markevicius took a chance on the idea and were amazing everyday and kept me going with ideas and support!
I shot a test scene with Ben and Andrew who had met for the first time that day and their anti-chemistry was perfect and just how I had envisioned it. Then we outlined a story for that awkward relationship to evolve in a narrative and started shooting with an outline. We shot three separate times over the course of almost a year and a half, and every time we shot the outline became more and more of a script. My main objective in my approach was to get genuine and organic performances and moments from Andrew and Ben, which we got thanks to their hard work and passion for the project.
I think the biggest challenge was not having a locked script that I was going out to execute. It’s freeing in a way to just go get great stuff but it all has to fit into the story I am telling and it was scary at times knowing I was going out without a safety net. I would also say it was a challenge to convince everyone as to what this was. Andrew comes from a very extensive and impressive editing background but had never acted before, so it was a risk, but I always knew he could do what I had envisioned him doing.
I think and hope audiences will enjoy it for its real and genuine nature. The relationship between Tom and Sam is very funny and touching and entertaining. I also hope people go home and facebook their elementary school boyfriends and girlfriends! How cool of a trend would that be to start???
Doremus lauds his inspiration…
Yes, I love Woody Allen’s work and watched many of his films during pre-production. I love how he uses his camera in a way that you never notice it or think; “Hey, they are on a set and there’s probably a boom guy off to the side.” The characters in his films are having real conversations and truly listening to each other and responding. I really wanted to achieve that with “Douchebag.”
…and what he’s got in the works…
The amazing and talented Lindsay Stidham who co-wrote “Douchebag” has written a few projects that I feel lucky to be involved with. One is called “Captain,” which is a dark comedy about a sweet con-man who sells cremations at sea. Our other project is a book called “Funny Little Monkey” which was written by the very talented Andrew Aueson. I hope to be shooting again soon, I can’t handle too much time away from it!
[indieWIRE invited directors with films in the Sundance U.S. Dramatic & Documentary Competitions as well as the NEXT section to submit responses in their own words about their films. These profiles are being published through the beginning of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. To prompt the discussion, iW asked the filmmakers about what inspired their films, the challenges they faced and other general questions. They were also free to add additional comments related to their projects.]